Scalia made the remarks in an interview published by New York Magazine on Oct. 6. In the interview Scalia claimed that the devil is a real person, and that he (the devil) is being very successful in persuading people not to believe in god.
The following is an excerpt from the interview of Scalia conducted by New York Magazine‘s Jennifer Senior:
Senior: Can we talk about your drafting process–
Scalia: [Leans in, stage-whispers.] I even believe in the Devil.
Senior: You do?
Scalia: Of course! Yeah, he’s a real person. Hey, c’mon, that’s standard Catholic doctrine! Every Catholic believes that.
Senior: Have you seen evidence of the Devil lately?
Scalia: You know, it is curious. In the Gospels, the Devil is doing all sorts of things. He’s making pigs run off cliffs, he’s possessing people and whatnot. And that doesn’t happen very much anymore.
Scalia: It’s because he’s smart.
Senior: So what’s he doing now?
Scalia: What he’s doing now is getting people not to believe in him or in God. He’s much more successful that way.
Senior: That has really painful implications for atheists. Are you sure that’s the Devil’s work?
Scalia: I didn’t say atheists are the Devil’s work.
Senior: Well, you’re saying the Devil is persuading people to not believe in God. Couldn’t there be other reasons to not believe?
Scalia: Well, there certainly can be other reasons. But it certainly favors the Devil’s desires. I mean, c’mon, that’s the explanation for why there’s not demonic possession all over the place. That always puzzled me. What happened to the Devil, you know? He used to be all over the place. He used to be all over the New Testament.
Senior: Isn’t it terribly frightening to believe in the Devil?
Scalia: You’re looking at me as though I’m weird. My God! Are you so out of touch with most of America, most of which believes in the Devil? I mean, Jesus Christ believed in the Devil! It’s in the Gospels! You travel in circles that are so, so removed from mainstream America that you are appalled that anybody would believe in the Devil! Most of mankind has believed in the Devil, for all of history. Many more intelligent people than you or me have believed in the Devil.
Scalia is weird. It is weird to believe the devil is real, no matter how many people share that belief.
Scalia is also wrong. Some imaginary devil is not responsible for the rise of atheism. On the contrary, the rise of atheism is a result of a great many individuals having the courage to stand up and speak the truth despite the religious delusions of Scalia and many others like him.
Ultimately, it is frightening, and sad, to know that a man with so much power embraces such silly superstitious nonsense.
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